Loss of development skills in children
Since a child’s brain is still developing, lead can lead to mental impairment. Signs of this can include:
Problems with hearing
Learning difficulties (short and long term)
A high, toxic dose may lead to more emergency symptoms such as:
Severe abdominal pain and cramping
Stumbling when walking
Encephalopathy, which manifests as confusion, coma and seizures
Lead poisoning is diagnosed through a blood lead test. This test is performed on a standard blood
Low levels in adults is common. However, low levels in children are a cause for concern. Normal lead
levels vary by age group. The amount of lead in the blood is measured in micrograms per deciliter
For adults, the normal the normal result is less than 20 mcg/dL. Slightly higher levels may not be
serious. Treatment is recommended if the adult is experiencing symptoms. It is also recommended for
a blood lead level greater than 60 mcg/dL.
For children, a normal result is less than 10 mcg/dL. Any higher level than normal should be
monitored closely and the source of the lead should be removed immediately. A level greater than 45
mcg/dL should always be treated. Levels of 10-25 mcg/dL have been associated with impaired
neurobehavioral development in children. Levels of 25-50 mcg/dL may be associated with headache,
irritability, and early nerve problems. Levels of 50-70 are associated with moderate toxicity, and levels
greater than 70-100 mcg/dL are associated with severe poisoning.
Additional tests may include blood tests to look at the amount of iron storing cells in the blood, x-rays,
and possibly a bone marrow biopsy.
The first step of treatment is to locate and remove the lead source. If it cannot be removed then it
should be sealed. Call your local health department for information on how to remove lead. They can
also help you reduce the likelihood of lead exposure.
Simple steps can help you avoid lead poisoning. Some steps include:
Avoid areas where lead-based paint may have been used
Keep your home free of dust